Your Legal Team Need Not Be the Bane of Your Creative Efforts: A Guide to Prosperous Coexistence
Your legal team and your creative team are two departments wed by corporate necessity and predestined to disagree. Or are they?
It’s true these two factions, equally vital in the advancement and survival of your business, often approach situations from polar perspectives. But with a little cooperation, understanding and, most importantly, communication, your legal and creative departments can get along like June and Ward Cleaver rather than Peggy and Al Bundy.
Perhaps the first step to harmonious relations between legal and creative is understanding the basis of their differences.
“The creative team wants every order it can get, [while] the lawyer wants to rule out every theoretical legal entanglement. They’re pulling in opposite directions,”says Mark E. Johnson, a freelance copywriter specializing in the health field, and a former creative director for Rodale Inc.
Broken down, this means:
• Creative has been charged with bolstering the company’s bottom line by bringing in lots of money—designing campaigns that will maximize profit.
• Legal has been charged with protecting that money—saving the majority, if not all, of it by sidestepping lawsuit imbroglios.
The legal department can hold sway over issues such as trademark use and brand management, which can feel limiting to creative staff. These departments’ goals may, at times, be at odds. But they need not be mutually exclusive.
“The first step is training,” says Lisa B. Dubrow, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who specializes in advertising and marketing issues. “I don’t mean sitting down and having seminars on the law. What I’ve found is that marketing folks have a different way of thinking and don’t necessarily focus on why the laws were created. If you have an idea of what the laws are trying to protect, you’ll know what the pitfalls are without talking to lawyers.”